Ravisankar S. Mayavaram msr at ISC.TAMU.EDU
Thu Jun 18 09:45:21 CDT 1998

On Wed, 10 Jun 1998, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:
> Firstly, the authors of the passage say that the "Agamas" provide a
> "practical" method of sadhana. I assume what they mean by AgamAs is the
> vedas and specifically upanishhads. As I understand, there is only one
> method which the upanishhads provide. That is jnAnam, brahma-vidya.

Agama-s explain the method to worship God. Like shaivAgamas explain in
details the way in which Lord shiva should be worshipped. They are not

> Upanishhads say that ritualistic practices lead to specific ends, but not
> to brahma-vidya, similarly bhakti. The upanishhads and Shri Shankara say
> that except jnAna-mArga, there is no other way to attain the knowledge
> of the Self. Thus, Venkataraman et al's usage of the word "Agama" to
> substantiate their own view, I think, is not correct.

It is correct that AtmajnAnam leads to and is liberation. By jnAna mArga
and Atma vichAra, if one means mere intellectual reasoning. It is not
correct. True Atmavichara happens when the mind is stilled and turned
inwards. rAja yoga and other karma mArga-s may give other benefits the the
aspirant desires. But if the aspirant begins with earnest quest to know
his true nature, it will lead to stilling of mind and interiorization,
which will enable _true_ Atma vichAra (shrI shankara makes this clear in
the vivaraNa of vyAsa's bhAshyam on yogasUtra) Remember the fact that shrI
shrI ramaNa mahaR^iShi meditated so much, which a normal person can not
even think of.  Agamic worship, if done with the intention of purification
and dedication to Ishvara, will quieten the mind and turn it inwards. A
deep meditation will be easily made possible after such a worship. If by
jnAna mArga, if one means arm-chair reasoning, I dont think it will lead
an aspirant anywhere.  A true Atmavichara can be done only when the mind
is stilled and disconnected from the senses.

> Secondly, Venkataraman et al say in the above passage ".... worked
> out by Sri Gaudapada and Sri Sankara **received a fillip** from Sri
> Bharati Tirtha and Sri Vidyaranya." (GM's emphasis on *received fillip*).
> This is, in my view, a poor choice of words by Venkataraman et al. The
> "superbly worked out fusion" by Shri GauDapAda and Shri Shankara does not
> require a "fillip" from any later source. The works of GauDapAda and
> Shankara stand on their merits and require no substantiation. This is
> like saying the upanishhads received a fillip and additional corroboration
> from smritis. It is neither required nor necessary.

vedas state the truth. They need no external support. But without a
bhAShyam-s on upaniShads many cannot understand anything out of it. That
is why shrImath AchArya wrote bhAShyam-s and other prakaraNA granthAs.
Many ignorant people are incapable of understanding the works of shrI
shankara.  So they need further support through explanatory works.  The
support the additional works provide makes the texts accessible to many
more people and strengthen the original work. I think that is what the
original authors implied. For instance, I am not in a position to
understand the vivekachUDamaNi without bhAshyams on it. The bhAshyam on
the text the sringeri shankAracharya (and its translation to english)
definitely makes the texts accessible to more people. Similarly additional
texts on the subject matter making it clear to lay audiences definitely
adds support to the original cause.

This is my understanding.

with respects,

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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